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2014 hottest trends for outdoor living and entertaining

Think spring with this beautiful outdoor kitchen and seating area
Think spring with this beautiful outdoor kitchen and seating area
Houzz.com

This brutal winter is hopefully waning with snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures beginning to subside. Thoughts of spring are in the air and homeowners are looking forward to preparing their gardens and landscape for outdoor living. American homeowners increasingly are drawn to adding outdoor rooms for entertaining and recreation on their properties. In the recent 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), it was reported that consumer demand remains strong for attractively designed landscapes for entertaining and relaxing. The survey also showed continuing popularity for both sustainable and low-maintenance design.

Hiring a landscape architect is one of the best investments for your home, adding as much as 15 percent to its value over comparable houses. And unlike traditional home remodels, the value literally grows over time while you enjoy your professionally designed space.

Landscape architects who specialize in residential design in the U.S. were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements in 2014. The category of gardens and landscaped spaces received a 94.2 percent rating as somewhat or very popular. Outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, followed in popularity at 92 percent.

Across all categories, 98.3 percent of respondents rated lighting as somewhat or very in demand, followed by seating/dining areas, fire pits/fireplaces, grills and installed seating, which includes benches, seat walls, ledges, steps and boulders, outdoor furniture and counter space.

“Homeowners know that designed landscapes add value to their lives as well as their property values,” said Nancy Somerville, ASLA executive vice president and CEO. “They’re interested in livable, open spaces that are both stylish and earth friendly.”

According to the survey, the most popular landscape and garden elements for 2014 include low-maintenance landscapes, native plants and fountains/ornamental water features. Slightly more than three quarters of respondents also noted that food and vegetable gardens, including orchards and vineyards, will be in demand this year. Organic gardens are also high in the ratings.

In the category of outdoor structures - terraces, patios and decks rated 97.7 percent with pergolas and arbors not far behind. Kitchens and porches followed and decorative water elements – including waterfalls, ornamental pools and splash pools, spas and swimming pools - are also expected to be popular.

Rating high in sustainable design elements was eco-friendly design that includes native/adapted drought-tolerant plants and drip/water-efficient irrigation. Permeable paving, reduced lawn and recycled materials are other popular elements that will help American homeowners reduce their environmental footprint.

As the snow and frigid weather continues to keep you homebound by the fire, dream with visions of flower gardens embellishing a patio and a roaring grill of steaks, fish and fresh produce picked from your vegetable garden.

The survey was fielded from January 16 to February 14, 2014. Additional information on residential landscape architecture can be found at www.asla.org.

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